Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A second eye emerges

Well, an eyebrow, anyway...

WIP: Spanish Eyes, Oct. 15,2014.

And here is a money shot!

Making Xs.
Moving at the speed of sloth.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Saint Kewpie, redux

I wasn't happy with the first version of the Street Virgins of Brooklyn make believe library catalog card, so I made a second version.



Street Virgins of Brooklyn 2, faux library catalog card.
Hand embroidery and watercolor.

I'd wanted to capture more of the feel of German artist Katharina Fritsch's sculptures, particularly the collection of figures in the MOMA sculpture from a few years back.

Katharina Fritsch collection, MOMA Sculpture Garden. (Photo from MOMA)

My first attempt was too muddy and soupy, not enough pop of color or unnerving crispness.

Detail, yellow Madonna.

To recap the content of this make believe book... Street Virgins of Brooklyn it is the work of Brooklyn poet and Russian translator Kevin Kinsella. In the volume, Kinsella roams the streets of his Windsor Place neighborhood, communing with the biblical yard statuary he finds in alleys and tiny front gardens.

Saint Kewpie, detail.
Kinsella's hauting haikus are responsible for the rediscovery of a forgotten NYC figure, Saint Kewpie, who was horrifically martyred in a Queens apartment incinerator and canonized during the brief papacy of John Paul I.

Process piece. Yellow Madonna from the back.

As the reworking of this card has taught me, a Kinsella's work is never done.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In a War... again (exhibition)

Back in 2012, I contributed to a collaborative, stitched art project call In a War Someone Has to Die, created by Danish artist Hanne Bang.

Follow the red arrow to my piece. (Photo from H. Bang.)

The project collected handkerchiefs from around the world, all embroidered with the line uttered in a matter-of-fact manner by a soldier-for-hire from Africa, "In a war, someone has to die." (Read more about it here.)

Opening night, Copenhagen. (Photo from H Bang.)

The collection has been exhibited several times, most recently as part of the miniTex14 exhibition at the Rundetaarn in Copenhagen.

I was excited to find my pink, scalloped handkerchief on the wall, embroidered with my mother's beautiful handwriting, in Spanish, her first language.

Hanging the works. (Photo from H. Bang.)

I want to go to Denmark to see the whole exhibition! In the meantime, here is a video about it, with lots of wonderful images.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Biblical Yard Waste

Street Virgins of Brooklyn is a collection of photos and haiku by poet and Russian translator Kevin Kinsella. Kinsella wanders the streets of Windsor Terrace, his Brooklyn neighbor, writing poetry and communing with the biblical garage statues he encounters.

Mold is spreading on the card catalog entry for the make believe book.

Even though the Street Virgins was just released this year, physical copies of the book are mysteriously (some would say miraculously) decomposing at a rapid pace. It's as if the books, presumably safe on the coffee tables and bookshelves of their Brooklyn homes, are suffering the same elemental decay of the plaster yard saints they depict. Pages are buckling and curling. Mold is growing on the spines. A chorus of WTFs rises in Brooklyn.

WIP: Saint Kewpie, who was canonized by Pope John Paul I.

The Vatican was not available for comment.

Biblical yard waste sketches, based on photos by Kinsella.

The most terrifying and yet somehow predictable morning in the Kinsella household occurred a week ago.

Kinsella returned home from walking his daughter to pre school to find a small army of neighborhood Saint Kewpies (who was martyred in a Queens incinerator back in the 1970s and canonized during the 33-day papacy of Pope John Paul I) staring menacingly down on him from his front steps.

WIP: Fighting through the decay.
This library catalog card is also decaying at a faster pace than one would expect.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Progress on my big, speckled forehead

Another 50 x 50 stitch section done! And this one only took me weeks.

Where I am, 9/13/14.

I have several thousand more stitches to go on my Spanish Eyes self portrait. I know what I'm going to do this fall and winter.

Spanish Eyes is based on this original self portrait.

So many more stitches to go. And library books to make up.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Accidental Bestiality (Or, Sexual amnesia and Cold War vixens)

Here is my latest stitched, card catalog card for a made-up book.  It's a 1951, torrid little page turner called "She Roared: True Tales of Accidental Bestiality and the Good Americans Who Lost their Lives."

She Roared. Mixed media and hand embroidery. 2014.

In the late 1940s, there were several unexplained gorings among the god-fearing, traveling men in upstate New York. In Utica, detectives never figured out how Frank Watta throat got ripped out. And the Poughkeepsie police never did locate the rest of Bill Bettlefield's torso.

Until Josef Lupin put the pieces together, so to speak, and recognized the Red Menace.


Detail from She Roared.


Soon, other men (with missing fingers, torn of ears and other scars) came forward and told their stories, in trembling, chain-smoking, tape recorded sessions with Lupin.

Seems a mysterious bevy of gorgeous, Eastern European women were lurking in the back streets and roadside motels of the Catskills and Finger Lakes. Hardworking traveling salesmen shared harrowing tales of seduction and attacks by these silk-clad, hirsute, surprisingly strong Natashas and Oksanas.

What the vixens look like!


Stalin had found his way into the American heartland and Lupin documented it all in the pages of this book. (Published by the gold folks at Gold Medal Books, New York, New York.)

Building my collection of made up books is fun.

"She Roared" joins my other made-up book, "Frayed Shawl in the Blizzard," a slim volume of poems from 1919 by a homicidal, Inuit seal hunter who falls in love with a lady seal and dies on the a frozen sea.

Yes, I realize both titles seem to feature inappropriate congress between humans and animals. Don't worry... I have other interests.

Next up: A title from a list of actual 18th century novels. (Thanks, Rick!)

Perhaps I'll tackle this title: "Flim-Flams! Or, The Life And Errors of My Uncle, And The Amours of My Aunt! With Illustrations And Obscurities, By Messieurs Tag, Rag, And Bobtail. With An Illuminating Index!"

Who can resist the lure of an illuminating index??

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Flaming Desire (still)

A few years ago, I was obsessed with stitching hazard signs, both real and imaginary. For some reason, the international warning symbol for “Radiation” was one of the first things I ever embroidered, back in 2010. I still have it in pillow form on my bed, even after all of the changes in my life.

Flammable tank. 2014.

I went on to embroider lots of flammable warning signs and a Do Not Enter sign that currently hangs in my living room. But once I began exploring embroidery on watercolors, I haven’t revisited the wonderful world of hazard signs.

One of my first embroideries, Radiation, in 2010.

These days I’m working on a giant x stitch self portrait of my eyes and doing little else with my limited creative time. But I did make myself this little tank top with an appliqued “Flammable” warning sign. A small, quick project that makes me happy.

Do Not Enter, hand embroider, 2011.

I want to revisit the world of hazard signs. Especially ones that I make up. It’s on my very, very long list of projects.

For now, here is a tune for you...  Bill Nelson’s Flaming Desire, from 1982. I used to love back in the day. It’s what plays in my head when I wear this little tank! My heart is still very full.